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Poster: vapors Date: Mar 18, 2012 2:47pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: The Ticket Scam

Everyone please take this with a grain of salt – and let’s just say that I heard all this on a bus trip long ago. I am posting some excerpts from a letter I wrote about it a year or so ago. This report might cause dismay to some, and I anticipate that some vitriol may spew forth. There isn’t much I could say to justify the activity herein described, and it wouldn’t be fitting to give the impression that I take pride in knowing the intimate details – it just is what went down.

The spinner family was a constant of dead tour in the late eighties. They averaged about 25 regulars on tour and many had friends/relatives who were there at the shows and would hang out. Their presence was noticeable in the lot – they always had a spread of wares for sale, and in the hallways – either spinning to the music or circled up for a group puff. I doubt many people who toured alot in the late eighties were unaware of them.

Today these tricks could never happen since most venues and ticketing all rely on bar code scanning. There were several integral parts that combined together to make this ticket effort possible. It is difficult to explain without jumping around a bit – and jumping around is an apt description!

I’ll start with the final product, usually crafted in one of the vehicles. A ticket has two parts – the stub you are given back that is your receipt with seating info on it, and the short end that the ticket taker rips off for the venue. Short ends were ‘collected’ whenever possible, often outright stolen from the box that they were placed in. Sometimes various methods of distracting staff were employed to accomplish this. The family had an ever growing collection of stubs of all kinds (ticketron, GD sales, etc) Resident artists would match up short ends and stubs, etch out dates with an exacto knife and draw in the proper info as much as they were able. They would tape the back of the ticket parts together and perforate it with a pin just right so that when the ticket was torn at the gate it wouldn’t have any noticeable difference. All this was an art that evolved very well and on any given night a great many people got into the show.

To collect stubs from the actual night, which naturally made the best counterfeits, some folks had to get inside. At times someone outside the family would give up their real tickets in exchange for helping get more of their friends in. Once past the turnstiles, the scene was always chaotic; they would just turn and face the incoming crowds asking “can we have your stub to help get more people into the show? “ It may seem incredible, but this never failed. Possibly many people thought it “good karma” to help out. To initially get someone inside a couple of strategies were used. A few were adept at side stepping the turnstile or hiding behind someone and slipping past at the last second. There was also the three for two – two real tickets handed at the same time with a stub sticking out to appear as a third. Although blatantly storming the gates wasn’t uncommon at such events, to my knowledge this was never the Spinners style. One crucial role was to scout the ticket takers and look for the best possible turnstile (careless, old, distracted, etc.) The spotter was key to realizing changes in the situation at the gates and implementing strategies to compensate.

Once some stubs were collected, they were tossed out over people's heads in a pouch to a runner who would then scramble away to the lot. Smaller venues were the most challenging, especially on the west coast. They even snuck into some of the Broadway shows that Jerry did. The Dead’s people gradually caught on, but the family somehow always managed to stay one step ahead and was very tuned in to every facet of the entry process. Even when a gate/door was shut down to them, or when the GD people were actively on the lookout, the family always got in. There reportedly was only one night at the NJ meadowlands (nasty security people there) in 1989 - everyone else actually got in, but due to some last minute foul up one member was left out, and so the whole group left the show. (The band played a very rare Dark Star that night... but one had been played a week before and another was coming up in Miami.)


These were some crazy antics by an unfortunate group of deadheads. Internal difficulties and a contradictory lack of morality regarding sneaking into shows notwithstanding, their dedication to dancing to the music always impressed me. I know that the subject matter contained in my post may disgust some folks, but perhaps this tidbit of tour history will be of some interest to others...

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Mar 18, 2012 3:57pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

No vitriol and largely news to me, but I'm curious as to how this ticket practice fit into the Spinners' theology, if you or anyone else knows. Will say the doctrine of transubstantiation as applied to Garcia would prove fairly unappealing to the masses . . . Jerry, Bobo and the Holy Goof?

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Poster: RBNW....new and improved! Date: Mar 18, 2012 3:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

old news to me ....seen that quite a few times ...i even remember people using stubs from previous night matching those colors on the old ticketron tix was an art indeed!!!... ones gotta a do what ones gotta do i guess!! i got in around the side of the pavillion at SPAC under a fence once!!!! mainly cause my backpack was stolen out of the van i traveled in and it contained my ticket and money!!!! shit i remembwer these 2 girls that used to spare change at shows that stayed in the top hotels every show....gotta do what you gotta do !!! we will survive!!!

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Poster: RBNW....new and improved! Date: Mar 18, 2012 4:21pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

another "ticket scam" i remember was the one where people with floor seats would go to their seats and one of them would bring the other floor seat stubs up and the bring other people on to the floor with them!

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Poster: corry Date: Mar 18, 2012 8:17pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

I have to admit this is kind of interesting. I saw plenty of shows in the first half of the 80s, and not only did I know nothing about such ticket scams, it never occurred to me that people were sneaking in en masse. I do recall seeing all the 'spinners' dancing in the lobby of the Oakland Auditorium (later HJK) on my way to the bathroom or something, and wondering why people would pay just to dance in the lobby. It didn't occur to me that they weren't paying.

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Poster: vapors Date: Mar 19, 2012 7:37am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

Hey corry, I don’t think it was that uncommon for ‘regular’ folks to dance out in the hallways too. There was often more space to do your thing. Of course the sound was more distant, but I do remember at some west coast spots like the Kaiser there were speakers set up in the hallway. At many venues folks used to prop the doors open with trash cans or something to let the music out.

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Mar 19, 2012 8:31am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

One of my favorite aspects of both Kaiser and SF (now Bill Graham) civic was the freedom to roam around the hallways and in and out of the arena - it felt like part of the same overall environment (esp Kaiser). Hell, it's not like there was any need to be looking at the stage. In fact, I recall really hating the backdrops they had by the time I saw them on Jer's last gasp tour - the vids of the parking lot scene, etc.

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Mar 19, 2012 8:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

One of my favorite memories of a show was from the last night of the Knick shows in 1990. I had seats for all the shows, but on the final night I found myself sitting next to some drunk frat boys. I was able to put up with them for the first couple of songs, but when the shrooms kicked in, I couldn't take their Neo-Republican Alcoholic-In-Training rantings anymore and fled to the hallways where I found a more than adequate PA system pumping out the amazing music. While I never considerd myself a twirler, I kind of gave into the music that night and found myself revolving around the inner-perimeter of the arena in a state of pure bliss. Perhaps not being "distracted" by using even a small portion of my senses on the visual part let me open my "inner eye" more fully and let the music hit me on a purley sonic level. I still get shivers remembering that feeling.

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Mar 18, 2012 5:08pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

Thanks - I had no idea of any of this. (Was well out of it in the late eighties.)

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Poster: Jobygoob Date: Mar 19, 2012 9:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

Well my girlfriend in 1990 was a manager at Kinko's Copies, and had access to a color copy machine and card stock quite similar to that used by ticket manufacturers. I'm a little ashamed to admit we made some copies of friend's tix for shows we got shut out of mail order for during more than one tour that year. I was pretty obsessed with making them look "just exactly perfect." I'd never pass these off on anyone unsuspecting, or try to sell them or anything shitty like that, but for personal use we were not above trying to scam our way into the concert with them. Sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn't, but more often than not they did.

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Mar 19, 2012 9:30am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

Curious as to what happened when they did not? Did they just not allow you into venue and/or did you have to give them a story, such as, bought bogus ticket in the lot? Not passing any judgment, just curious.

I once got into MSG by going in with friends who had tix and I handed a $20 to the ticket taker. Only time I tried that and it worked. Luck of the draw?

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Poster: Jobygoob Date: Mar 19, 2012 9:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

Nothing too dramatic, I was just not let in and the fake ticket confiscated. Actually I guess I exaggerated a bit because I only did this during spring and fall tour 1990, and the only venue it didn't work in was McNichol's Arena in CO late that year. I had real tix for the first two shows and fake for the third. Interestingly my friend got in with those the same tix but I was shut out...the power of being a pretty blond I guess.

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Poster: bailey-g Date: Mar 19, 2012 10:57am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

Helps to choose your ticket-taker wisely. As in,avoid the old frowning dude with a buzz cut and go to the young dude that looks like he'd rather be anywhere else. That's right,ticket-taker profiling!
Thinking more for the 'pat down' than ticket scammin'. Same idea though.

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Poster: adks12020 Date: Mar 19, 2012 6:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

How about the modern "ticket scam" where 60+% of tickets are sold by Ticketmaster to Ticketmaster subsidiaries like Ticketsnow, before the public even has a change to get them, and then resold for 3-5 times the original price.

Oh how I long for the days of "stubbing people in" like you describe and mail order tickets. Those were the good times.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Mar 18, 2012 7:57pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

Ah, didn't know about this at all; thx, D...interesting stuff. The thing that impresses me so much is how different the scene from the late 70s on was in relation to my times with them...from the parking lot, to the larger venues, to the huge interest generated in 87, not to mention all the concern over Jerry's health--his comebacks, his wt gain, etc.

All so very different from my time, which strangely, felt so "long after the 60s" that we all were convinced we'd MISSED all the good stuff! Funny how that works...

Thx for explaining.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Mar 18, 2012 9:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

>which strangely, felt so "long after the 60s"

Exactly how I felt! Now I'm pretty conscious of a kind of shift in mood/perspective between the late 70s, which was more of a "last ripple of the 60s" feel, and the kind of rediscovery of the 60s that started around the mid 80s (IMO). So I feel really privileged to have seen at least a bit of the earlier Dead scene. I think it used to feel so "long after the 60s" because you still COULD sense the 60s; later, the 60s were just history to be preserved or recreated with your own generation's twist and all, but that's different.

Of course now I wish I hadn't missed the late 80s! I didn't see the band at all between 85 and 90, and the scene really had changed a huge amount between those years. Partly because it was so huge, but also very much in atmosphere. Not in a bad way at all, at least in my experience (though I'm sure there was some of that), just in a different way. I love hearing those stories; thanks, vapors!

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Poster: William Tell Date: Mar 18, 2012 10:01pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

Very apt description...only thing I'd quibble about was of course it was "...in a bad way..." (changing times/80s).

;)

If only cause I was raising kids then and decided it was so, or I'd have felt a little bad about missing it; as it was, I got to say "nah, this sucks now; you shudda seen them when..."

Only thing is that "when" somehow has morphed into 68 rather than 75. Another example of that "funny biz", eh?

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Poster: jillbailey Date: Mar 23, 2012 10:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

There's a lot of scam incidents lately. I guess almost everyone has been conned out of cash before, whether it is the homeless male on the street corner faking his lack of wealth or a fake debt collector trying to take your cash. There is no have to feel lousy over it since everyone gets caught in one. Although we would like to think we are all too smart to get caught in frauds, occasionally we underestimate the scammer. Everybody falls into these traps every now and then. Fortunately, one can [url=https://personalmoneynetwork.com/payday-loans/]Pay the bills, even after a scam[/url].

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Mar 18, 2012 10:19pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

So basically you haven't changed; you're STILL convinced you "missed the good stuff"! And good gosh, you saw '75. Well, the more things change ... :-)

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Mar 19, 2012 12:36pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

Strikes me that these folks have more in common with Irish Travellers then the typical 'Head.

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Poster: micah6vs8 Date: Mar 18, 2012 5:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

Yeah, that sounds about right. I didn't know what they did with the tics I gave them, as I was on their list along w/ the people I usually went in with. I didn't care b/c I was in a show!

The background story you wrote v brought me back. I enjoyed reading it very much. The late eighties were a wild time in constant tour mode (or even not so constant). Mega-Dead, the music which kept on getting better until reaching the magic year of '90, Touch Heads w/ a lot of young exuberance, caravans miles long going from show to show, and adding our own take on GD culture much (usually) to the grumbling of our elders. Oh, but when you got in.... The feeling is why I'm still involved. Nothing like it.

v, I don't know your name (I think I did once, sorry) but I will say hi to her when I have it. Or actually my wife will on Fb. She is married now w/3 kids and is a fundamentalist Christian. I haven't seen her in years as we tend to annoy each other after about an hour. D. says she seems happy.

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Poster: stratocaster Date: Mar 18, 2012 10:31pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The Ticket Scam

yeah, I knew about all that back in the day...also knew about other scams with conterfeit tickets and bunk acid, I distinctly remember one of my buddies buying a fake ticket, best part was that we actually found the guy later in the parking lot, let's just say karma was in play and that dude was not a happy camper...